Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Very early in the story, readers are told that Baldeo is a "watchman." We are also told that his watchman duties come with a "station." The station is nothing more than a small shack by the railroad tracks in a thick part of the jungle right before a tunnel. The...

Unlock
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial

Very early in the story, readers are told that Baldeo is a "watchman." We are also told that his watchman duties come with a "station." The station is nothing more than a small shack by the railroad tracks in a thick part of the jungle right before a tunnel. The following paragraph then gives readers a few more specifics about exactly what Baldeo's watchman duties are. His main job is to ensure that trains can safely pass through the tunnel. This means that Baldeo must inspect the tunnel for obstructions. Whether there is an obstruction or not, Baldeo has to use a manual signal to tell the trains that it is safe to go or whether they have to stop and wait. Baldeo must also make sure that the nighttime signal lamp stays burning.

Baldeo was responsible for signalling whether or not the tunnel was clear of obstruction, and his manual signal stood before the entrance. At night it was his duty to see that the lamp was burning, and that the overland mail passed through safely.

Baldeo does have other duties as a husband and father. It is up to him to protect his family and provide for them. This is one reason he has the job. It supplements the minor income he receives from operating his own small rice field.

Their small rice fields did not provide them with more than a bare
living and Baldeo considered himself lucky to have got the job of Khalasi at this small wayside signal stop.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Baldeo has some very important duties to perform. As a railway watchman, his job is to protect government property from thieves and intruders. He's a kind of security guard, with all the duties such a job normally entails. The railway is an eerie place at night, with all kinds of strange noises emanating from the darkness. Baldeo is genuinely in fear as he begins his new job. At the same time, he's also an incredibly brave man, as his subsequent encounter with the tiger clearly demonstrates. As well as his formal employment duties, Baldeo is forced to take on the role of protector of the village. There's a tiger on the loose; it's a man-eater and represents a threat to the villagers' safety. If Baldeo runs away, then he's exposing them to serious danger. But he stands and fights and does his duty, not just as a railway watchman, but also as a man.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team